The Baltimore Ravens entered the 2021 offseason with a clear need to upgrade their offense at wide receiver and center. Right tackle might need to be addressed as well if two-time Pro Bowler Orlando Brown Jr. gets his wish granted and is traded to another team — where he can live out his childhood dream of playing left tackle.
On Tuesday, Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta met with the media for the first time since the season ended and shared his thoughts on the developing situation.
“We’ll do what’s best for Orlando and we’ll do what’s best for the Ravens,” DeCosta said. “These things take time sometimes. There’s a lot of different scenarios with how this thing could play out. But we are blessed to have him on the team. He’s an excellent player.”
DeCosta has been in contact with Brown Jr. and his representatives since he made his desires public via social media and formally requested a trade. However, there is currently no timetable for a potential trade.
The Ravens have historically been a player-friendly organization and rarely have ugly breakups with ascending or aging assets. That being said, as the head of the front office, DeCosta’s primary responsibility is to put the well-being of the team as a whole first and foremost so that they are equipped with the requisite pieces and resources to contend for a championship.
“It’s all really about what’s best for the club,” DeCosta said. “That’s how I look at everything we do – what’s best for the club. How does the club win?”
Like his Hall of Fame mentor, Ozzie Newsome, DeCosta loves to stockpile draft capital and expressed in the presser that he will be looking to do so heading into this year’s draft. With no timetable for a possible trade, DeCosta could pull off a trade with a desperate team after the initial wave of free agency has subsided or on the opening night of the draft.
Either scenario would likely land the Ravens premium pick or the combination of an early-round pick and a player. It would also leave them with a glaring need on the right side of their starting offensive line with All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley coming off a serious ankle injury that, according to Head Coach John Harbaugh, required two surgeries.
When Brown had to flip over to his natural position at left tackle after Stanley went down, his absence on the right side was noticeable. The Ravens had four different players take snaps at right tackle after the switch but the job primarily was assumed by the underwhelming rotation of veteran D.J. Fluker and rookie Tyre Phillips.
This year’s draft class is viewed as richer than usual with quality offensive tackles. However, to expect a rookie to come in and perform at a high level for a team with super bowl aspirations would be tough, even if he is highly rated coming out of college. Not even Brown Jr. began his rookie season as the starter and had future Hall of Fame guard Marshal Yanda helping him develop for his first two years in the league.
DeCosta understands and sympathizes with someone wanting to live out their dream but the Ravens clearly don’t want to move on from Brown Jr. and won’t unless it is for the right price.
“I think Orlando is a competitive guy,” DeCosta said. “I had a dream when I was 6 years old to be general manager of an NFL team. I think Orlando’s dream has always been to be a left tackle in the NFL like his father. That’s just how he sees himself and that’s how he envisions his career playing out.”
After showing that he could play both bookends at a high level in 2020 with an 11-game sample size on a blindside blocker in the pros, Brown Jr. likely priced himself out of the Ravens’ price range heading into the final year of his rookie contract.
“We’re blessed to have him on the team,” DeCosta said. “He’s a great kid, he’s an outstanding player, he’s played very well for us – a very selfless guy. He’s bounced around, played two different positions at a very high level. He’s under contract and he understands that.”
The former third-round pick out of Oklahoma has been an incredible asset since he was drafted in 2018. There is no guarantee that he will be traded this offseason if it’s not in the best interest of the team in 2021.